November 6th, 2012 was a momentous day in our country. Wait, was there an election that day? I was of course talking about the release of Halo 4. The sixth first-person shooter game in the insanely successful Halo franchise. I wonder why they would have chosen to have an election on Halo release day 2012.
That statement is actually not very far off from what many 14-24 year old boys thought. What ever happened to the days when a 22 year old male worked full time and supported a family, all the while attending college? Or the days when an 18-year-old boy didn’t want to spend all weekend shooting aliens on his Xbox? Or the time when a young man would walk up to a girls door for a date, instead of honking his horn for her to come out? Or the time…
Sometime in the last 2 decades we created a culture where young men ceased to exist and boys don’t become men until their mid-to-late 20’s. That’s a major problem, and we are seeing it in our churches also. Men have stopped coming to church. They have stopped leading their families. Menial things like fantasy football and working on their cars have begun to consume them. Men have become just gray haired boys. What happened? Where did the ball get dropped? Does it have to continue?
No. It doesn’t. How has it gotten to be this bad? There are many contributing factors to this problem. The first is that we have allowed teenage boys to be this way. We as parents stopped training them to be men. Recently I was talking to a parent who has a 16-year-old daughter. Her daughter’s boyfriend pulled up to the house to take her on a date, and instead of walking to the front door, he honked his horn from the car. Twenty years ago this kind of guy didn’t exist and neither did this kind of girl. However, her father, with fire in his eyes and reprimand on his lips did exist. After the boyfriend honked his horn, the mother was instantly frustrated. Why? Because it seemed that her daughter’s boyfriend cared very little about her daughter. Do I place blame on this young man? A little bit, but much of the blame needs to be put on his parents. Did they tell him he shouldn’t do that? Did they tell him how he should handle himself on a date? Probably not.
My first official “date” was my 8th grade homecoming. Before I went on this date, however, my dad made me go over and ask the girl’s parents if they would allow me to take their daughter to homecoming. I never would have done that if my parents didn’t make me. I didn’t even think about it. One of the things required of us as parents is to….parent our kids. We have to train them what it means to be fully functional, societally appropriate, adults. A parent’s reluctance to parent is the first and main contributing factor to teenage boys remaining in the immature state they are in.
However, it is not the only contributing factor. Society has played a significant role in the delayed adulthood of teenage boys. Social media, video games, text messaging, music, all of these things, when used unrestrained, keep teenage boys in a holding pattern well into their “adult” years. You as a parent are never going to be able to control society, but you can control society’s impact on your teenager. We have to constantly be monitoring the impact society has on our children. That means that if you are allowing your child to engage society, then you have to engage society. One of the main passions we have for Radical Parents is to keep parents informed of society, and its effects on their children.
Hope is not lost though! The ship hasn’t sunk. There are some very easy and practical steps we as parents can take to walk our teenage boys from “boyhood” to “manhood.” Over the course of the young men series, we are going to take a look at what we can do to change our expectations of boys, and some practical ways we can begin to train boys to become men.